Book review: Lily and Dunkin, by Donna Gephart

Gephart, Donna. Lily and Dunkin. Delacorte, 2016. 352p. $16.99. 352p. ISBN 9780553536744. Ages 11-14. P9Q7

gephart-lily-and-dunkinSecrets overwhelm two 13-year-olds: Lily knows she is a girl although she was born Tim, and Norbert, who Lily nicknames Dunkin, has been hospitalized for his bipolar disorder after he failed to take his medication. Their first meeting comes as Lily is experimenting with dressing as a girl in public, and Dunkin’s mother has brought him with her to live in a new home. Their struggles to fit in drive them apart as Dunkin tries to fit in with the middle-school basketball team, the bullying boys who Lily calls “the Neanderthals.” To have the energy to learn to play basketball, Dunkin goes off his meds again, leading to disastrous consequences. The two protagonists tell their stories in alternating chapters as they find their paths out of their crises sometimes through humor and always with great humanness. Lily’s attempt to save a tree from being cut down makes her far more than a one-dimensional “transgender” character. One reviewer said that trans readers would not see themselves in Lily, but my test readers say differently. I highly recommend this book.

Fall 2016 review by Nel Ward.

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